Published June 10, 2010
Long before he was U.S. national team coach, before he even ran his first professional team, Bradley was the head soccer coach at Princeton University, his alma matter. And in the 1990s, he took the Tigers to Italy to watch Capello coach AC Milan.
They've spoken a number of times over the years about soccer, and their teams will meet Saturday when the Americans play England in their World Cup opener.
"His quote to me, his coaching advice is always something along the lines of: 'When you make wine, the grapes aren't always the same,'" Bradley said Wednesday. "And the first few times he said that to me, I thought he was actually talking about wine. But since then, I thought about it and I realized that he was trying to tell me a little something about football."
Bradley remembered watching AC Milan play Inter Milan and Sampdoria on that Princeton trip. He also followed Capello's career during stints with Juventus and Real Madrid.
"What you is expect is that the teams will be well-prepared. Tactically they will be right. The mentality will be right," Bradley said. "He certainly sets a good tone with his team in terms of how they need to play, how they go about their business."
He was especially impressed at how AC Milan did after Capello replaced Arrigo Sacchi as coach. Coming off consecutive European titles in 1989 and 1990, the Rossoneri went unbeaten in 58 straight Serie A matches under Capello from May 1991 to March 1993 and won four league titles in five seasons.
"The demands that Sacchi put on the teams were great physically," Bradley said. "I think Capello knew how to keep a lot of the good things there, but how to tweak it a little bit, how to make sure that physically with the number of games that Milan was playing, that that part could be managed."
When Capello moved on to AS Roma from 1999-04, he switched to a 3-4-1-2 formation that took advantage of Cafu's talent, teaching Bradley that a coach must adapt to the players he has.
Bradley also has learned from watching Premier League managers, a group that has helped mold many of the U.S. national team players. Alex Ferguson and Manchester United stood out from Bradley's visits there.
"I appreciate the way Sir Alex has set a tone in the whole club," Bradley said. "There's a down-to-earth way. You sit in the cafeteria and you see the players that have been there, (Ryan) Giggs, (Paul) Scholes, and then you see young players that play for the reserves, and you see the interaction and you see the way things are done. And it's a big club, but at the same time there's a down-to-earth quality. There's a realness, there's a part to it that for me I think is important. So yeah, I learn a little bit every time I have the chance to see how these people work."